| Protesters block NH31 at Amingaon on Monday. Picture by UB Photos |
Borjhar, Oct. 28: At least 60 members of Oboro Suraksha Somittee were injured in police lathicharge and subsequent stampede today after they blocked National Highways 31 and 37 at Amingaon and Jalukbari respectively, despite denial of permission by the administration.
Somittee, an umbrella organisation of non-Bodos living in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts, staged the protest, demanding security for non-Bodos living in the four BTAD districts. They have also been opposing the demand for a separate Bodoland state.
Senior superintendent of police (city) A.P. Tiwari said nearly 300 protesters, including 12 leaders, were detained to restore traffic on the highways and the situation was brought under control with “minimum use” of force.
The Kamrup (metro) district administration had yesterday denied permission to the Somittee for staging the blockade, citing interests of public, patients and students. Gauhati University campus is situated close to the place where the protesters staged the protest at Jalukbari today.
They first put a blockade at Amingaon, affecting traffic movement on NH31. Later some of them blocked NH37 at Jalukbari, disrupting the movement of traffic for hours. The police resorted to a lathicharge when the activists refused to clear the road despite repeated appeals. The forces used tear gas shells first but could not control the mob till they resorted to caning.
The protesters shouted slogans for exclusion of non-Bodo villages from BTAD and condemned the extortion, killings and abductions in the area. They also alleged unfair treatment from the BTC administration to the non-Bodos, saying they were being denied the benefits of government-sponsored schemes.
They also urged the Union and state governments to hold talks with non-Bodo groups before considering the demand for Bodoland. The All Bodo Students Union and other Bodo groups launched a fresh movement for Bodoland after the UPA government announced its decision for Telangana.
Those injured in the lathicharge were rushed to the Tolaram Bafana civil hospital at Amingaon. Mihir Kumar Dey, superintendent in-charge of the hospital, told The Telegraph that two persons, including an old man who sustained chest injuries during the stampede that followed the lathicharge, were referred to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital. “The rest were released after first aid,” he said.
The police also seized four vehicles packed with protesters and brought around 1,000 of them to Azara police station, 10km away.
The Somittee’s working president, Purna Kanta Mahanta, said they would continue their agitation. As a part of their next programme, they will obstruct movement of political leaders. “Our members will stage a protest near the LGBI Airport and stop leaders and ministers coming out of the airport,” he added.